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Never too old for techno? Why Scooter updated their sound

German techno legends Scooter have released a new album with a fresh feeling - thanks in part to their young Austrian producer. At a show in Finland, they tell DW how they work together and why change is ok.

DW: How does it feel to go on the stage with new songs?

H.P. Baxxter: At first, we are always a bit nervous about being able to remember the text. But I am pretty sure that it will work out. I've rehearsed them a lot and we've already performed the song during DJ sets. But I think today is our first real performance.

The new album "Ace" has a stronger pop sound. How did that come about?

H.P. Baxxter: We have a new line-up. Phil is mixing. [Eds.: Austrian producer Phil Speiser became a Scooter member in 2014.] That's why we're now working in a different way and producing a different sound. There is no point in trying to maintain something that has become obsolete. We do have a huge repertoire of classics and typical Scooter techno pieces. But once in a while you need to try something ne, and transform everything so that it fits into the new era.

Phil, how do you see your own role in developing the new Scooter sound?

Phil Speiser: I believe that H.P. thinks that my productions differ automatically from productions in the 90s, simply because I happen to be a bit younger. I cannot authentically reproduce the sound from back then because that simply wasn't my time as a musician. But our new productions do sound like Scooter, because H.P. and Michael continue to have a lot of influence.

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Are there also conflicts among the members of the band?

Phil Speiser: Well, sometimes they use strange terms for certain things (laughs). Especially in the world of music production, there are things you can't describe with words. But these guys have created their own terms, for example for certain sounds, as use them as if they were in the dictionary. And I have no idea what they're talking about. But by now I've come to understand their language.

"How much is the fish?" or "Respect to the man in the ice cream van": How do your texts come about? I guess H.P. is still responsible for them?

H.P. Baxxter: I tend to pick up ideas here and there, or I take notes whenever an idea strikes me. That happens quite a lot outside of the studio. For example, we were recently in Ireland. In a pub there, I came across this saying: "Don't take life too seriously; you won't get out alive anyway." I found that funny, and it fit perfectly with our single "Oi," which you can't take too seriously. Recently, I've been developing a lot of texts together with Phil. And he has given a lot of thought to rhythm.

Phil Speiser: I've noticed that I've become very susceptible to bizarre phrases. Just walking around I pick up things that, under normal circumstances, I would have ignored.

H.P. Baxxter: That's a selective perception of insanity (laughs).

Scooter frontman H.P. Baxxter, Copyright: picture alliance / Jazzarchiv

Frontman H.P. Baxxter co-founded the group in 1993

Part of the new album is also a ballad in which H.P. is actually singing instead of shouting. "Torch" is a cover version of the song by 80s British band Soft Cell. How did that come about?

H.P. Baxxter: It has almost become a tradition with Scooter that once in a while I indulge in my New Wave past. We've also done songs by the Sisters of Mercy or Billy Idol.

Phil Speiser: On the album, this is basically the outro. In the worst case, if someone doesn't like H.P. as a ballad singer, they can just turn it off. But I think a lot of people will like it.

H.P. Baxxter: Or they listen to just that piece and say, "Wow, what a nice song! Why don't they stick to this kind of music?" (laughs)

Tonight, you're going to perform here in Finland. Why is it that you seem to be performing mainly in northern countries like Finland, Norway and Russia?

H.P. Baxxter: Yes, we often perform in cold regions. I wouldn't mind performing in southern France (laughs). Somehow it seems to have something to do with the music. Maybe people are too relaxed in warm weather where they like chill-out music or reggae. .

Michael Simon: Traveling around is a nice aspect of producing music. You get to see the entire world. I can't imagine sitting in an office every day from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, and that for 20 or 30 years.

Quite often, there is a bit of self-irony in your performance, and especially in the texts. Is that a particular way of dealing with criticism?

H.P. Baxxter: To me, this is a way of dealing with life in general. I don't take things too seriously. Thinking of death, it all seems so futile. At times, it amuses me when people give a lot of thought to the texts and then say, "What kind of nonsense is that?" That also holds true for the single "Oi." In the text, I sing, "Everywhere I go, all the ladies wanna touch me."

That's of course a mixture of wishful thinking and making fun of myself. On the other hand, I enjoy it when there is something to laugh about.

Phil Speiser: Delusions of grandeur are a popular stylistic device. That's the same in hip-hop. Not everybody rapping about 30 Ferraris and 200 pretty girls really has them at home. That's rather the exception.

Scooter, Copyright: Kontor Records

Scooter: Michael Simon, H.P. Baxxter, Phil Speiser

Phil, how did your colleagues and friends react when you told them two years ago that you were joining Scooter?

Phil Speiser: Reactions to Scooter are of course rather mixed. People who've never seen Scooter tend to be particularly critical. But when it really comes down to it, I guess I was very lucky as the band had already earned a kind of cult status when I joined. They already enjoyed a lot of respect. I didn't have to share the tough times when Scooter were questioned a lot.

How is it possible to produce hits even after 20 years?More than 50 of your singles made it into the German top 100. That breaks all records.

H.P. Baxxter: That's quite exhausting in the long run. But I still enjoy performing. And I'm always happy when we've produced a few new tracks. It's still a lot of fun, but of course also a lot of work.

When are people too old for techno?

H.P. Baxxter: I believe that depends on your attitude. Perhaps when you've gotten tired or lost your interest and motivation. That point may come one day - or not. That's up to everybody to find out for themselves.

The festival today is joined by many fans who already saw you in the 90s. Will young fans also join in?

H.P. Baxxter: Yes, fortunately! It's great to not only perform in front of people who knew you 20 years ago. Of course, we're proud to have fans who've been loyal to us for many years. But new fans have always joined the crowd, and that has continued until today. That's why the audience is very mixed in terms of age. That becomes very apparent when we play in big halls in Germany.

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